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Washington Voices

Napolsky plays with the watercolors of life

Thu., Oct. 20, 2011

Fabian Napolsky, a watercolorist who has been painting for about 12 years, works mainly on landscapes and flowers in his South Hill home. (Jesse Tinsley)
Fabian Napolsky, a watercolorist who has been painting for about 12 years, works mainly on landscapes and flowers in his South Hill home. (Jesse Tinsley)

Fabian Napolsky is driven to paint. Mixing color with water is not a hobby for the artist, it’s a challenging, fulfilling and exciting creative process that expands beyond the edges of the paper.

“There is a huge spiritual quality to creating art,” he said. “It encompasses the world and has a certain energy.”

His work depicts scenes and landscapes that are often taken for granted. Napolsky takes “stop and smell the roses” to a whole new level with his art as he actually captures the “roses” in an attempt to remind others of the beauty that surrounds them.

Napolsky often paints outdoors. “I respond to my environment – the wind, sun, air temperature, humidity, quality of light, the bugs that are buzzing around me or crawling in my paint box or that alight on my paper, the sounds of birds, water, wind. At other times I might respond to the silence and stillness or the sheer beauty of the landscape and my surroundings.”

His work is filled with the sounds and movement of life, perhaps because “My brush and pigment are an extension of me,” the artist said. “I adjust, react, and am creatively responsive, spontaneous, decisive, and malleable. There is a give and take. Watercolor reflects life, is life, gives me life, and enhances my life.” He compares it to kayaking, which he does often. “I work with, not against, the water, the current, and the obstacles in the river.”

Napolsky was born and raised in New York City. He attended the University of Bridgeport and earned a degree in psychology. After that, he headed west for graduate school, attending Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University.

He has a master’s in education, is a licensed mental health counselor and a chemical dependency professional. He was a therapist in Newport, Wash., where he and his wife built a log cabin. He later worked for ESD 101 in Spokane. He now resides on the South Hill and works at Spokane Mental Health. “Art and therapy complement each other,” he said.

Napolsky began painting about 12 years ago when he watched and followed along with artist Tom Lynch on a public television show. He went on to study with Lynch and other artists in classes and workshops. Now, Napolsky teaches the craft at the Corbin Art Center and the Spokane Community Colleges Institute for Extended Learning. He has shown his work at Art on the Green in Coeur d’Alene and ArtFest in Spokane.

Looking at Napolsky’s work, a viewer cannot help but take a deep breath and relax. His work flows and urges a viewer to do the same because the artist goes with the flow, believing strongly in the idea that control is an illusion. “Trying to control our world is misguided and wasted energy,” he explained. “Teaching watercolor allows me to share this philosophy by demonstrating or illustrating that we don’t need to be in control.”

The Verve celebrates the arts. If you know an  artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, email to Jennifer LaRue atemail

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